Our long-term goal is determining new strategies to enhance our biomass production capacities in the context of climate change. To that end we focus on understanding basic questions related to the effect of the environment on cellular proliferation, cell identity acquirement and the coordination of growth programs during development. In this conceptual scenario, we use the secondary vascular development of plants as a developmental example because: (i) it is the origin of wood, the biological tissue accumulating the largest proportion of biomass on earth, (ii) it is anatomically simple and (iii) it progresses in a predictable manner. Depending on the actual question to tackle we use a specific plant species or ecotype. Thus, we use Arabidopsis thaliana to study the genetics of acclimation and environmental adaptation of vascular cell-types determination and proliferation, and other species such as Sellaginela kraussiana, Certopteris richardii or the non-vascular plant Marchantia polimorpha to shed light on the evolution of vascular development.
Furthermore, we perform translational biology projects using cassava roots. Cassava is the main staple crop in sub-Saharian Africa, where it feeds more than 500 million people, and its production heavily relies on secondary vascular development, constituting an interesting experimental system to study fundamental questions with high application potential.